It is so common for toddlers to become obsessed with things that almost every parent you talk to has countless stories to tell you about their child’s obsessions and the funny stories that came about because of them.

  • Stopping at every construction site you see to sit for a while and watch.
  • Grandpa calling to tell you every time there’s new construction by his house, telling you to pack up the kids to come watch.
  • Renting a really interesting new construction movie, only to watch it, literally, three times in a row.

We all get the picture and we have all been there, in one way or another. Whether it’s construction or trains or Princess Barbie, the drill is the same. Those sweet, little munchkins live it and breathe it until we think we just can’t stand to watch any more fireman movies for the rest of our lives.

There is a really productive thing that we can do with all of this toddler obsession, though. We can use it as an opportunity to turn out little ones into bookworms! When little Jimmy wants nothing but more trains, trains, trains – give him just that. Take him to the library and show him just how many kids books about trains there are.

This would be a great opportunity to get your child their own library card and let them begin to check out a few books at a time. Let your child know that they can go back and check out more books when they finish the ones they have. They will begin to understand the concept of libraries and that they work on a borrow system and that the books are not theirs to keep.

As a special surprise, you can bring home a book about trains (or cars, trucks, princesses….) from the bookstore that is their very own to keep. You can put it on their pillow so they find it when they go in their room and then you can explain to them that that one is their very own to keep.

Toddlers don’t, of course, have the longest attention spans, so they might not want to read entire books. And that is just fine – let them decide how much of the book they’d like to hear. They might want to just look at it all by themselves.

They might not express interest in the kids books at all. The best thing to do in that case, is just to leave the book where they can get to it and/or see it. (If it’s a paper book and they need supervision, you can leave it on a high shelf where it is still visible.) Leave it ‘lying around’ and let them discover it or re-discover it on their own. Forcing them to sit down and listen to it before they are ready will send the wrong message about books not exactly being pleasant. If it is where they can see it, and they see you reading from time to time, they will eventually come back around to it. After all, it is a book about trains!